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Local Pokemon enthusiast shares love of game through ‘professor’ program, league

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Floyd Rockholt, owner of Eagle Hill Stamps and Coins in Presque Isle, has been playing Pokemon card games since 2000, a hobby that progressed naturally from his love of collecting baseball and comic book cards, stamps and coins.

Over the years he also has turned his love for the game into many unique opportunities to travel and become part of the international Pokemon community.

“I’ve gone to probably 12 Pokemon world championships and 10 national championships,” Rockholt said. “Often I’ll take some players from the local league.”

Rockholt has been hosting a local Pokemon league since 2004 when he completed The Pokemon Company’s Pokemon Professor program. Through the professor program, the company certifies Pokemon enthusiasts as tournament judges or organizers and allows them to judge individual card or video game-based competitions during tournaments based on their skill sets and knowledge.

Rockholt is a Stage 1 Pokemon Professor, meaning that during tournaments he can run any of the sections that are divided by players’ age — the Junior section for ages 10 and below, the Senior section for ages 11 to 14 and Masters for ages 15 and over — but not serve as the head judge, who oversees the entire tournament.

Although the players in Rockholt’s league participate in Pokemon games for fun, they can still earn points that potentially make them eligible to compete in the Pokemon Regional Championships for New England, which has traditionally taken place in Massachusetts. His travels to the national, world and international championships have taken him to Florida, Washington, D.C., California, Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

In the past, Rockholt’s players have ranked in the top 32 of the world championship, for which they’ve won sets of Pokemon cards as prizes. They might not yet have won the ultimate prize — an entire year’s worth of new Pokemon cards — but he said the most rewarding part of tournaments comes from the relationships made with players of other states and countries.

“The community around Pokemon is a very friendly one. No matter what country people come from, the kids will learn some of each other’s language and culture just by watching them and playing with the cards themselves,” Rockholt said.

That close-knit community, even among folks from 38 different countries, is one that Rockholt has fully embraced during his time as a Pokemon professor. He has watched tournament games in which players have used Pokemon cards in numerous languages, from French to Japanese, and have incidentally taught each other words from those languages. Rockholt has seen the game of Pokemon become a common language for his players and those from other countries.

In Rockholt’s local Pokemon league, there are 25 members who range in age from 8 years old to 50, with the average ages being between 12 and 25. They meet every Thursday and Saturday at Eagle Hill for some friendly competition and the comradery that comes from their shared enthusiasm for collecting and playing with Pokemon cards.

Rockholt said that he enjoys seeing young players embrace Pokemon and the practical and creative skills they learn as a result.

“I’ve seen many younger kids learn to read and do math through playing Pokemon,” Rockholt said. “They also learn how to get along with other kids because instead of competing they’ll try to help each other deal their cards better and win the game.”

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